Even if you aren't a fan of baseball, it's tough to ignore the drama going on right now in the American League Championship Series. Just when everyone said it was done, when all hope was lost, when the Yankees were up 3-0 on the Red Sox, an insurmountable lead if there ever was one, suddenly we have a fall classic. After winning back-to-back improbably extra-inning games in Boston, the Sox pulled even with last night's 4-2 win in Yankee Stadium.
The two games in Boston were amazing. Boston, down to it's last three outs in Game 4, and that close to being swept embarrassingly, beat Mariano Rivera to get their first game. Then, the next night in a marathon 14-inning fight, they deliver again.
Last night's game was inspiring and wild. Adding to the atmosphere was something that you hardly ever see in a baseball game once, let alone twice: reversed calls. And both were correct and both hurt the Yankees.
The first, which I am still hearing Yankees fans bitch about, is the home-run that put the Sox up 4-0:
- Mark Bellhorn’s three-run homer for the Red Sox was originally ruled a ground-rule double. But after much discussion, the umpires correctly reversed the call — the ball had ricocheted back onto the field after hitting a fan in the front row of the left-field seats.
- In 1996, Maier reached over the right field wall and deflected the Yankee batter’s fly ball into the stands. The umpires ruled it a home run and it helped the Yankees tie the Orioles in the eighth inning. The Bombers went on to win the game.
Aha, the red-eyed Yankees fans say, there was yet another controversial reversal, this one requiring the riot police's intervention afterward:
- Then, in the eighth, with the Yankees seemingly on the verge of another comeback, the biggest call of the night went against them. Rodriguez hit a dribbler between the mound and first base. Boston reliever Bronson Arroyo picked up the ball and reached out to tag Rodriguez, who chopped down on Arroyo’s arm and knocked the ball free.
Jeter raced around to score and Rodriguez wound up on second, apparently cutting the deficit to 4-3. But the umpires got together again and called Rodriguez out for interference.
- According to Section 6.1 of the MLB Umpire Manual, "While contact may occur between a fielder and runner during a tag attempt, a runner is not allowed to use his hands or arms to commit an obviously malicious or unsportsmanlike act."
If there had to be one reason, one awe-inspiring performance that put down the Yankees, it wasSchilling's heroic stand:
- With blood seeping through his sock and bravado etched on his face, Curt Schilling shut down the Yankees and — just as he wanted — shut up 55,000-plus New Yorkers.
Pitching on a dislocated ankle tendon held down by three sutures put in the day before, Schilling gave up one run over seven innings as the Red Sox beat the Yankees 4-2 Tuesday night to save their season for the third day in a row and force a winner-take-all Game 7 for the AL pennant and a trip to the World Series.
So, we have the improbable Game 7 tonight, which no baseball team has ever lost once up 3-0. In fact, no team has even forced a game seven after being down 3-0. Until now. Until these miracle Red Sox. Will the Red Sox complete the greatest comeback in baseball history against the most storied team ever? Or will Babe Ruth somehow bail out his limping, beat-down team? Suffice it to say, I'll be watching, and, like the two games before, I'll watch until it's all over.